I preached on Psalm 8 last Sunday and the one question that automatically came to mind when I prepared the sermon was, “What’s the practical use of seeing the glory of God in nature?”
First off, it is good to keep in mind that not all parts of the Bible demand practical application. I know this can be a bit of a snag for some of us. We are, after all, trained to make personal applications whenever we hear or read something nice. We are that passionate about obedience. But notice that the biggest point of the entire Bible, the salvation of man through Jesus Christ, is not something you do or apply. It is something God does to you. So no, not all verses demand practical application.
I belabor to point that out because the glory of God is not something you practically apply to yourself. You can’t make a “to do list” out of it. No, the glory of God is something that overwhelms you, stirs up your sense of wonder, arrests your imagination, and leaves you speechless. In other words, there are probably no immediate practical uses to seeing the glory of God. It’s like watching the most beautiful sunset or watching a live performance of the most beautiful music you’ve ever heard. There’s no practical use to it but it leaves your heart full and satisfied and strangely warmed. It doesn’t drive you to action. It fulfills you in a way that you can’t even begin to describe.
That is glory. And we all need to feel that.
That is why I recommend that every Christian should look at the night sky, or climb some mountain, or go on nature trips, or at least look down from a high spot once in a while to get to feel at least three things: the utter smallness of man, the bigness of the world, and the incredible bigness of the Creator who made this big world. Why? Because we all have the tendency to overestimate ourselves. All of us have bloated egos that need resizing. Seeing God’s glory is the cure to this.
We need a visual reminder that we are not the center of the universe, that we are small compared to the vast expanse of the heavens, that we really are just specks of dust in this vast ecosystem of galaxies floating around in space. We need to feel small in order to correct our bloated sense of entitlement, to diffuse our pride, and to give us a frame of reference to help us understand grace.
When David contemplated the heavens, his immediate response was to lay prostrate in worship and exclaim in utter wonder: “What is man that you even bother thinking about him? What is the son of man that you would care about him at all?” David was right. By all rights, God could actually choose to ignore us and leave us for dead and it will be totally fine. He’s got galaxies to take care of, why bother with prideful worms?
But this is where God’s glory shines the brightest. By caring for mankind he chose to flex the muscle of his glory not in the grand designs of the universe but in rescuing small people like us. Yes he is glorious in creating suns and stars and moons and planets in the heavens. Yes he is glorious in crafting rock formations and fluffy clouds and snowflakes and droplets of water and the rings of Saturn. Yes he is glorious in creating and suspending and naming and sustaining billions of planets in space and keeping them there without losing one of them. But he is even more glorious when he told us that he cares about our teenage drama, our family squabbles, our secret fears and insecurities, our pimples, our stage freight, and a thousand other small issues of small people like us. This is gloriously wonderful.
See what happens when you look at the glory of God? It cures you of pride, it humbles you and exalts you at the same time. It reminds you of your place in the world without making you feel like you don’t matter. Seeing glory makes you realize that you are extremely small and yet you are extremely loved.
What is the practical use of seeing the glory of God? I don’t really know. What I know is it makes my heart feel warm like I’m on fire without really burning. It makes me feel full to the point of overflowing. It’s like I’m drowning in the sea of goodness and I like it very much. Seeing a fraction of the glory of God changes me and I don’t even understand how.